'Women work more than men but remain at lower posts'

Speakers talk about women's rights, role of social media as a tool of empowerment

Our Correspondent October 29, 2017
Hour-long: The session, ‘Sindhi Women and Men: Need of a New Social Contract’, was moderated by poet Amna Abro while women rights and civil society activists, including Raheema Panhwar, Shabnam Gul, Anita Shah and Shahnaz Rahu, were the speakers. Photo: Athar Khan/Express

KARACHI: Women work more than men but remain at lower posts and get less perks than their male counterparts.

This was stated by activist Anita Shah during an hour-long session at the Sindh Literature Festival, organised by the Sindh Literacy Foundation at Beach Luxury Hotel.

The session, 'Sindhi Women and Men: Need of a New Social Contract', was moderated by poet Amna Abro, while women rights and civil society activists, including Raheema Panhwar, Shabnam Gul, Shah and Shahnaz Rahu, were the speakers.

The speakers termed the incumbent democracy a 'devilcracy' and said, "Customs and traditions are a stumbling block for women to get their rights."

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Shah, who has also served as bureaucrat, spoke about her office where women had no separate washroom and said, "Female employees would wait to use the washroom untill their male counterparts left for prayers."

Narrating a few stories, she said that they work at office and additionally deal with all matters at home too. "I realised this when I became a mother," she said, adding that despite the tiring struggle, women are not given their due role at the workplace.

Panhwar presented multiple reasons for discrimination against women, be it at home or at work. "We have inherited customs and traditions that do not allow women to enjoy their rights," she said, adding that social taboos are being followed in the name of honour.

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"A male who gives his wife permission to drive a car in Karachi does not allow her to walk on a street of his village without a burka," she said, adding that there is a dire need for education, coupled with awareness.

Writer Gul was of the view a woman should be judged as a human in every field rather than on the basis of her gender. "A society can only flourish when we develop a positive attitude towards each other," she said.

Earlier, panelists debated the role of social media during a session, 'Shukriya Social Media', moderated by Qurrat Mirza and the speakers included liberal activists and bloggers, including Jibran Nasir, Sadia Baloch, Zulfiqar Qadri and Mukhtiar Abbasi.

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"Social media is a [voice of] hope for the voiceless people," said Nasir.
"We can now tag ministers, any party head or authorities concerned on social media to seek help for our problems," he said.

Abbasi, a political worker who is quite active on social media, gave an example of the case of missing persons in Sindh and said, "National media overlooked this issue and hardly anyone highlights these cases.

All credit goes to social media which mounts pressure on the government and its institutions.

"After the hue and cry made on social media, police and the Sindh government arrested the killer of Tania Khaskheli, who was killed by an influential landlord in Jamshoro district," he said.


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